Today, I’m delighted to welcome Rebecca Bradley to the blog.
After leaving the police service after a 16 year career, Rebecca is now writing full-time from her home in Nottingham. Her blog covers interviews with authors, thoughts on writing, and behind-the-scenes information about life as a police officer – well worth a look, and the link appears below.
In the meantime, let’s find out more about Rebecca and her protagonist, DI Hannah Robbins…
First of all, please could you tell us a bit about your protagonist, DI Hannah Robbins, who first appeared in your novel Shallow Waters?
Hi Rachel, thanks for having me on your blog.
Hannah, yes, she’s a DI who heads a Major Crimes Unit in Nottingham when we meet her in Shallow Waters, but the geographical and force set-up has all changed by the time we meet her again in Made to be Broken. This is to mirror real life events in modern day policing. She is a single woman in a relationship she is unsure about, but is certain and steady in her role at work.
How important is the setting of Nottingham to the novels? Could the stories have been based anywhere else in the UK, or was the city an integral part of the plot?
I like to think that Nottingham plays its part well in the novels. I’ve had great feedback from Nottingham readers who have loved reading about the locality. I was once given some great advice when I was just starting out in the writing world and that is that location seems to be more important to the crime genre than any other writing genre and I think it’s correct. We need those dark streets and alleys for our dirty deeds. We need the feel of the architecture as it looms above us, the feeling that our surroundings evoke in us is important in crime because crime, more than anything, is about feelings and Nottingham provides all this really well. It’s a diverse city, mixing cultural and modern with old and historic.
Had you always wanted to be a writer, or is writing something you’ve explored after leaving the police?
I was one of those people who always wanted to write a novel, but more than anything I wanted to be a police officer. When I was at school there were height restrictions and I couldn’t apply (that kind of gives away how old I am!) so I didn’t join until I was older and I’d had my first child, because it was at that point that I found out the restrictions had dropped. Between time, the writing dream had drifted away, I just feel I was the person who could do something so big as write a novel. But then I joined the police and I realised I could actually do whatever I wanted to do. You should never let your own self-doubt or low self-esteem drag you down and stop you from doing anything.
“You should never let your own self-doubt or low self-esteem drag you down and stop you from doing anything”
As I tell my children, you should always strive for what you want. I wrote Shallow Waters while I was still in the police. When I had to leave after 16 years, due to ill health, I then had a career I could pursue that didn’t take the kind of physical energy that the police did, but still gives me mental stimulation and lots of joy as well as lots of stress when I think the story is complete and utter pants!
Given your background in the police, how much research do you have to do for your novels?
With the first novel research was minimal as I set it in the world I worked in, which was sexual exploitation. The second one, Made to be Broken took a lot more work because of the way I was killing people off. So it’s not always the investigative side you have to research, it’s everything else. This was poison, which was an interesting one to use.
How do you maintain a balance between fact and fiction?
I think that considering my background, readers expect to be able to feel that authenticity so I really struggle with this. I want to provide the authenticity without hitting them over the head with it and making it read like a police manual. It’s a fine line I battle with constantly. So far I seem to have managed it…
Can you tell us more about your latest DI Hannah Robbins novel, Made to be Broken?
A young mother dies in her home and a forensic post-mortem identifies cause of death as poison (I’m not telling you what, you’ll have to read it to find out!) At first the team don’t know if this is an accident, suicide or something more suspicious, but then they realise this young mother isn’t an isolated case and things start to spiral out of control…
What’s the downside to being an author? (For example, what state is your “To Be Read” pile in?)
Ah, the TBR pile! It’s shocking. I set myself a goal on Goodreads every year and this year I set it lower than I usually do and I’m still behind on it, which isn’t good because I strongly believe that authors need to read to be able to write. I was lucky to be able to catch up somewhat on my holiday recently and I’m determined to do a better job of keeping up with reading, and reading a wider range of books as well.
The other downside is the state of your body. Sitting down a lot. You have to make sure you take some exercise, get up out of that chair. I get up in a morning and walk my dogs before I do anything else.
Finally, onto more serious stuff – tea. Builders’ or milky? One lump or two?
I adore tea and can’t function without it! I like it weak, but not milky! And no sugar, thank you. I’m also partial to Betty’s Rose tea.
Thanks for dropping by Rebecca – it’s been great hearing more about your writing!
To find out more about Rebecca Bradley, follow the links below: